By PAT REEDER
Buzz Easterling shared a passion of polo playing with the late Jim Rogers. Now Easterling continues love of the game with Jim’s sons, Chuck and Kem.
Easterling and his wife, Beverly, will join the Rogers family for the Will Rogers Days celebration, marking the 127th birthday of Will Rogers.
The Easterlings will be in the Saturday parade as well as participating in the Friday birthday party at the Oologah Will Rogers Ranch and the Cherokee Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club tribute at the Claremore Will Rogers Museum.
John Ehrling, veteran of 30 years with Tulsa radio station KRMG, will be parade marshal for the “Will Rogers and American Spirit” parade, produced by Claremore’s Reveille Rotary.
Members of the Pony Express team of riders from Will Rogers Roundup Club will hand off saddle bags carried along the six-mile route from the Will Rogers Trail on Oologah Lake to the Rogers’ family in time to participate in the parade.
Saddle bags will contain the “Discoveries … American Oklahoma” DVD, the new “Roping Fool” DVD, Joe Carter’s latest Book “Quotable Quotes” and a history of Will Rogers’s father’s role in the Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma’s Constitutional Convention. As the elder statesman of the Convention, his peers chose Rogers County as the name of this county when the state was formed.
Easterling’s friendship to the Rogers’ family goes back almost 50 years when he first played polo with Jim Rogers in Scottsdale, Ariz. They found they had more in common than the game.
Buzz Easterling was born and raised on a West Texas ranch. Jim came from a pioneer Indian Territory ranching family and while he spent much of his life in a city setting, he was drawn to the land and spent his adult life as a cattle rancher and horseman.
Jim Rogers attended New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell. At age 14, Easterling’s mother sent him to the military school.
“They (the school) put me on a polo horse. I went to playing and never got off,” he said in a telephone interview from his western New Mexico ranch home.
It was later that he met Jim Rogers. “He helped me a lot. Later we became close friends.”
That circle has grown to include Chuck and Kem, who will be in Claremore for the celebration along with their sister, Bette Rogers Coop.
“Chuck was just a little kid then,” he quipped. Now the two are associates in a Polo Club and “have lots of fun.”
El Caso Ranch Polo Club is a part of Easterling’s ranch operation in the mountains about 18 miles from the Arizona state line.
Music of Claremore’s Will Rogers Junior High and High School and Sequoyah marching bands will mingle with floats, drill teams, youth groups, car clubs, antique cars and individual cars, equestrian riders and riding groups — and politicians.
Pocahontas Club, a group of Cherokee women participating in Will Rogers Days since 1938, will have a float. Among others to make early applications are Reveille Rotary, Miss Oklahoma, National American Miss Jordan Flippo, T-Town Stars drill team, Ladies Advancement of Corvette Enjoyment (L.A.C.E.) and their vintage automobiles, Oklahoma Gunslingers from Big Cabin, Rogers County Cherokee Association, American Volunteer Reserve, American Veteran’s Honor Guard and other veterans groups.
The parade formation and route has changed this year. All units will line up at the Claremore Expo Center and parking area and proceed down to Will Rogers Boulevard, go west to Owalla, south to Dupont and return to the Expo Center. This will allow the route to avoid the railroad crossing, downtown construction and Highway 66 and return to the origin for easier and safer pickup when the parade is concluded.